Preservation, Education, and Commemoration of Naval History
Part 3 of Captain George Stewart’s series on Fletcher class destroyers looks at operations of these workhorses during the Cold War. Shown is USS Halsey Powell, a Fletcher class destroyer, along with a map of her 1958 Pacific deployment. (read more here)
My previous article (read Part 1 here) gave an overview of the U.S. Navy’s highly successful Fletcher class destroyer. In this article I will attempt to describe how a World War II Destroyer was manned and organized. Hopefully, it will provide some insight as to the duties performed by individual crew members during the war. My first assignment in the Navy was Engineering Officer of USS Halsey Powell (DD 686), a Fletcher class destroyer, and my experiences on that ship form the basis for this series on Fletchers. This discussion is centered on the ship’s organization as I remember it between 1956 and 1959.(read the full story here)
On 2 August 1964 three North Vietnamese PT boats attacked destroyer USS Maddox (DD 731) in international waters in the Gulf of Tonkin. Maddox sunk one. A few days later, the U.S. Congess passed the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, which gave the Government authorization for what eventually became a full-scale war in Southeast Asia. This oil on canvas by Commander E.J. Fitzgerald depicts the fight. NHHC image KN-11060.
On 31 July 1964 the all-nuclear task force comprised of US Navy warships USS Long Beach (CGN 9), USS Enterprise (CVN 65), and USS Bainbridge (DLGN 25) left Norfolk, VA to begin Operation Sea Orbit, circumnavigating the globe without refueling. In this photo taken prior to departure, members of Enterprise's crew are in a flight deck formation spelling out Albert Einstein's equation for nuclear energy. NHHC image KN 09027.
This is the first of a series of articles describing life in the 1950s on a World War II built Fletcher Class Destroyer. My connection to these ships began as I was approaching graduation from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy in August of 1956. Due to a change in legislation it was suddenly announced that all of my class would be required to serve on active duty in the Navy for 3 years upon graduation. My orders turned out to be to the USS Halsey Powell (DD 686), a Fletcher Class Destroyer home ported in San Diego, California. At the time I had not quite reached my 21st birthday.
The Fletcher class destroyers were authorized as part of the 1941-42 Shipbuilding Program. They incorporated many lessons learned from earlier classes of destroyers built during the 1930s and in the early stages of World War II, particularly relating to stability and sea keeping ability. During the 1930s, the Navy had produced a succession of “step deck” destroyer designs with raised forecastles. But the Fletcher Class reverted to a “flush deck” design like the destroyers of World War I. Most of the ships were initially assigned to the Pacific Fleet where they were to play a major role in the war.(read the full story)
For the month of August, Naval History and Heritage Command along with the support of Naval District Washington, will offer free public access via the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail to the newly opened Cold War Gallery, the National Museum of the U.S. Navy and destroyer Display Ship Barry.
The only day the museums will not be open is on Mondays, due to the furlough restrictions.(learn more here)
BOOK REVIEW – Imperial Japanese Navy Destroyers 1919-45 (1): Minekaze to Shiratsuyu Classes
By Mark Stille, Osprey Publishing, Oxford, United Kingdom (2013)
Reviewed by Diana L. Ahmad, Ph.D., Missouri University of Science and Technology
As with other Osprey publications, this volume packs a lot of information into a small space and completes its discussion of Japanese destroyers with excellent illustrations by Paul Wright and photographs from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command and the Yamato Museum. A tremendous amount of detail is provided regarding the development of the Japanese destroyer that became the most successful part of the Japanese fleet.(read the full review)